In a letter welcoming the Hachette Book Group staff back from the holiday break, CEO Michael Pietsch called 2021 “a very successful year for HBG, thanks to your work and dedication.” More details about HBG’s performance will be released later this month, but Pietsch pointed to a number of highlights in the year, including the September acquisition of Workman and the February appointment of Carrie Bloxson as v-p of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Pietsch also thanked those staff members who made it possible for HBG “to ship more books in 2021 than in any of the past three years” despite “unprecedented disruptions to the global supply chain, to our domestic printing program, and to our own warehouse operations.” While these issues have eased up somewhat, Pietsch said, “we have to anticipate some continuing disruptions in 2022. We’re working hard to improve our ability to receive and ship our books on faster and more reliable schedules, and are exploring both short- and long-term actions to get us there.”
Another problem that has not ended with the new year is when it will be safe to have employees return to the publisher’s offices. Noting that the pandemic “has derailed our plan to return to our offices early in the new year,” Pietsch said: "I know we will turn a corner in 2022–soon I hope!–and return safely to our offices. Planning for that return requires a tremendous amount of work, especially with such a continually evolving situation, and I am deeply grateful to the teams handling that complex process.”
In a letter sent to authors and agents a few days after the letter to staff, Pietsch reiterated a number of points while making a few additional observations. He noted that HBG "saw a resurgence of sales at chain and independent booksellers and gift stores" as physical stores reopened in the year, but he also noted that supply chain issues did result in delays in restocking and reprinting titles. Pietsch said that he expects some of these issues to continue this year, and that the publisher will do its best to keep authors and agents apprised of what is happening.
On a new topic, Pietsch highlighted HBG's efforts to defend copyright, pointing to HBG being a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the Internet Archive and to the company's support for the AAP's lawsuit against Maryland and its new e-book library law. "These copyright battles affect everyone involved in creating and publishing books," Pietsch wrote. "In 2022, I will step into the role of Chairman of the AAP, and will be focusing intensively with other publishers on these and other fronts."
This story has been updated to include remarks Pietsch made to authors and agents.